Don’t be LIMITED, be a LIMITED EDITION!
Over the years, as an entrepreneur, I have met a lot of women who run their own business. You must be wondering why I am not referring to them as women entrepreneurs. The reason is, a lot of them do not consider themselves entrepreneurs. When I asked one of them why she didn’t, her answer was,”Hey I am not an “entrepreneur”! This is something I just do in my free time. I make a few extra bucks and it keeps me busy too – win-win.” And that was when I realised what makes a woman running her own business an entrepreneur is the scale to which she wants to take her business. A successful business or even the B-plan for a successful business needs to ride on parameters of growth. This growth could be in terms of expansion of business geographically, growth in customer acquisition, increase in product line – the list goes on – all converging into growth in revenues. After six years, two ventures, and an experience to cherish a lifetime, here are my two cents on how women entrepreneurs can grow their business:
Every business needs milestones
Any business needs clearly defined milestones to succeed. Milestones help you plan, execute, and adapt to course correction better. It also makes your business more tangible in terms of achieve-ments. But make sure the milestones are not carved in stone. Sometimes you relook at them, skip over one to reach the next or aim to achieve two at a time. But milestones are what keep you close to your growth plan and review your achievements.
Do away with the gender stereotypes
Never get burdened down by gender stereotypes. There are no businesses for just men or women, which also means that a man’s commitment and a woman’s commitment towards the business should be the same. It is important to understand that the commitment is not defined by the number of hours we spend working, it is actually defined by an individual’s focus on the business goals. Women constantly juggle various responsibilities and being an entrepreneur will test your multi-tasking skills to the hilt. The way to deal with this is to choose your team wisely. Surround yourself with people who share your entrepreneurial vision. And, most importantly, try to avoid becoming redundant through technology or people so that you can focus on the way ahead.
Know your customer
I can’t emphasise this enough! Engage with your customer, even when you have a customer management team. Understand the need gap, and if your product is able to fulfill the need. This will help you evolve constantly keeping pace with the growing and changing market/customer dynam-ics.
Capture your market before going all out
This also means that your growth plan has to be very well structured. Focus on capturing a niche, a particular geography or a particular segment of customers. Spreading your resources thin at the very initial days of your business would only create dissatisfaction and make the business model seem flawed (without it actually being so). Growth and scale doesn’t come overnight. It is a step-by-step process.
Don’t just advertise
Advertising is easy especially when you raised a major chunk of your money under the umbrella of marketing expenses. But it is extremely critical to use the tool of advertising in the right manner. Focus on reaching out to the right set of customers rather than reaching out to a large number of random people. Bifurcate your customers into a direct Target Group and influencers. Advertising through the right mix of the medium is key. While social media and online advertising are getting more & more popular as mediums of advertising, it is also important to reach out to your custom-ers in more tangible forms. We at www.beckfriends.com, actively use social networks for advertis-ing but our promotions and the recommendations we get on various closed online user groups, give us the highest customer conversion rate. Focus on creating brand advocates by delivering what you promise to be the long run game.
Build a strong customer base
Build your marketing and customer acquisition plan not just around growing your customer base but also towards strengthening your existing base. Customers can make or break your brand and hence a certain part of the marketing efforts should focus on retaining the current customers and converting them into repeat/regular customers. Moreover, every happy customer brings at least one more customer through their recommendation. And that just doubles your base without any pilferage of marketing budgets!
Allocate your funds wisely
Understand your business priorities. An entrepreneur always needs more funds than they have. And hence it is important to set your long-term and immediate goals and allocate the funds accordingly. The efforts should be towards optimising your resources before increasing them just because you have been funded! Keep your fixed cost low and build a steady stream of revenue to help you sustain and form the base to grow. And be answerable towards every penny spent, whether it’s yours or of your investor. This will help you evaluate spends, spend wisely, and also save for a rainy day!
Think and behave long term. It is good to grown steadily than to grow exponentially and then not know what to do. Passion, backed by loads of Perseverance and Planning with the right Partner-ships – whether investors, team members or affiliates- is the base of any business that wishes to sail through the worst tempest to come out changed, but only for the better.
That’s what separates the ‘Limited’ from the ‘Limited Editions’!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)